NEW DELHI, Dec. 11: Let's divide the Day 4 of the India v England fourth Test into two halves. During the first half, Virat Kohli and Jayant Yadav punished England with the bat, recording personal milestones as they pushed their team into complete control in Mumbai. In the second half, after India were all out for 631 till the time stumps were drawn, England were in for some more punishment and this time with the ball that gripped and turned square leaving them 182/6 on Sunday, still 49 runs adrift of India's 231-run lead and the prospect of batting for three more sessions to save the Test.
Things could have been uglier for the visitors had Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow not arrested a manic start that saw England losing three wickets in 13 overs - the first of them Keaton Jennings off the second ball of the innings. Ravindra Jadeja struck in consecutive overs to remove Alastair Cook and then Moeen Ali at the stroke of tea-break, hurting England's chances.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball to swing early on and trapped Jennings for a first-ball duck. Cook then misjudged the length and got beaten by the pace as Jadeja completed 100 wickets in Test cricket. Moeen also registered a duck and then Root combined with Bairstow, who survived as many as four chances, to counterattack, adding 92 runs at the rate of 4.31. Root swept his way to 77 runs as he stalled the spinners, moving his feet well to counter the turn. Batting with Bairstow, it seemed Root had shepherded England out of the storm but Jayant Yadav trapped him in the last hour of play to further dent the fading hopes. Bairstow too completed a half-century but then lost Ben Stokes following which Cook sent Jake Ball as the nightwatchman. Ashwin removed him off what turned out to be the final ball of the day, drawing India closer towards victory.
On a day when India produced an all-round show, Kohli continued his sublime form with the bat, notching up third double-century, the first Indian to do so in a calendar year. He was out after scoring a record 235 - the highest by an Indian Test captain - while hunting for some quick runs. With Jayant, who became the first Indian to score a century batting at No. 9, he added 241 runs for the eighth wicket and pushed India's score past 600-run mark. Their partnership is also highest by an Indian pair for the eighth wicket, surpassing the earlier record of 161 set by Mohammed Azharuddin and Anil Kumble in 1996.
It was yet another frustrating day for England as the hosts completely dominated the proceedings scoring at a brisk rate - 128 runs in 29 overs - in the morning session. The sight of the ball sprinting past the fence was a regular one and was matched only by the frustrating expressions time and again the England players sported as Kohli rolled his wrists to keep their short balls along the ground and Jayant pushed their full deliveries, sending the worn-out fielders on a leather hunt. England skipper Alastair Cook punted on Jake Ball again to bring out a magic ball that could somehow break through the defenses of the Indian batsmen and give them a similar start to that of Saturday morning when Pujara was dismissed off the second ball of the day. It wasn't the case. Instead, Kohli laid down the marker with an on-drive for four.
Jayant chimed in with two pleasant boundaries off successive Moeen deliveries next over and India had added 12 runs in 12 balls. He was comfortable against both spinners and pacers, dishing out cover drives and cuts with such regularity that he belied his batting position, putting to shame some of the more established batsmen from either side. When Moeen tossed the ball up, he wasn't averse to stepping out; when dropped short, he rocked back to unleash fierce cuts but the front foot drives were a regular features.
But the bigger story was being penned down by Kohli whose third double-ton in five months also made him the first ever India captain to do so. It's scary how he can slow down and accelerate almost at will seamlessly. While there was a phase on Saturday when he went boundary-less for 30 overs, today was exact opposite. When he started, he was batting on 147 off 241. When he took the single that sent the Mumbai crowd roaring with delight, he had added 53 more to his overnight total in 62 balls and completed a memorable double-century.
For England, it was a frustrating session with nothing going their way. James Anderson bowled his heart out, mixing his deliveries but when he surprised with an odd bouncer, either it was pulled away emphatically or when he successfully induced edges, they fell safely. He did force Kohli to play a loose shot but was at the receiving end of an impossible return catch but that was it. After Kohli-Jayant show, the spinners took over as India closed in on yet another series win at home.
Brief scores: England 182/6 (Root 77, Bairstow 50*; Ashwin 2/49, Jadeja 2/58) & 400 trail India 631 (Kohli 235, Vijay 136 Jayant 104; Rashid 4/192) by 49 runs. (TOI)
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